In a nutshell, Beccaria believed people commit crimes because they freely make choices in their own self-interest.These choices sometimes conflict with the interests of society.
Because many of the criminal choices can be anticipated, society should take measures to manipulate and discourage those choices.
Society could discourage the choices by setting criminal punishments severe enough to keep people from choosing to commit crimes.
He opposed the death penalty in most cases based on this same argument.
Beccaria felt capital punishment was needlessly severe.
Cesare Beccaria was an Italian philosopher and thinker who lived during the 18th century.
Beccaria Essay On Crimes And Punishments
He belonged to an intellectual circle known as The Academy of Fists.He wrote that long-term imprisonment and perpetual slavery, or banishment, were more effective deterrents. Cesare Beccaria was an Italian philosopher and thinker who lived during the 18th century. The text forwarded the idea of social contract, which is the belief that the government exists solely to serve the people, and the people are the source of the government's political power.It also promoted utilitarianism, which is the belief that the government should only legislate in ways that provide the greatest public good.This is a criminal punishment theory that maintains punishment is payment for harm done. Deterrence prevents the criminal from repeating criminal behavior and also dissuades others from choosing to commit crimes.Retribution is based on the old adage, 'an eye for an eye'. Beccaria felt that deterrence provided the most use for society.This means the people can choose to give or restrict governmental power. Beccaria claimed that criminal punishment was only justified in order to further the social contract.For this reason, he classified treason as the most serious crime because it violates the social contract. Utilitarianism piggybacks on the social contract theory and refers to the belief that the government should only legislate in ways that provide the greatest public good.Let's look more closely at some of the major points made through On Crimes and Punishments.Beccaria forwarded two important philosophical theories through his text. Social contract refers to the belief that the government exists solely to serve the people, and the people are the source of the government's political power.This is an important philosophical theory that was more fully developed through the later works of Jeremy Bentham.Using utilitarianism, Beccaria claimed that criminal punishment should be practical and useful to the people.